Baseball Opens Spring Trip With 12-6 Pounding of McNeese State
March 5, 2010
BEAUMONT, Texas - Behind seven strong innings from sophomore Ryan Ignas (North Wales, Pa.) and yet another home run from junior Ben Heath (Huntersville, N.C.), the Penn State baseball team topped McNeese State, 12-6 at the YMBL Cardinal Classic on Friday. The Nittany Lions (3-1), who finished with 19 hits for the game, jumped out to an early lead and wouldn't look back. The squad now prepares for two games on Saturday, against Dallas Baptist (12 p.m. ET) and host Lamar (3:30 p.m. ET).
The Lions' 19 hits mark the most since last Apr. 11 when they had 20 in an 11-9 win over Purdue. Sophomores Sean Deegan (Readington, N.J.), Joey DeBernardis (Lake Zurich, Ill.) and Jordan Steranka (Pittsburgh, Pa.) led the way with three hits apiece while Deegan and Steranka each scored and drove in a pair. All nine members of the starting lineup recorded a hit, with seven finishing with multiple base knocks.
Heath finished 2-for-5, already his third multi-hit game of the season. He finished with a career-high four RBI and now has seven in the last two games and eight for the season. He also stole his first-career base in the second inning, one of three Nittany Lion swipes on the day.
"It's a good start for me," said Heath. "You've just got to keep swinging and keep working in the cage without getting complacent with anything. I've had a lot of people helping me. I feel good and want to just keep that up."
Ignas was strong on the mound once again, only allowing two runs in seven innings. He allowed five hits while walking one and striking out a career-high six.
"I was trying to do the same thing that I did my last start, just trying to keep the ball down and let my fielders do all the work," said Ignas. "One through nine, we hit the ball, which makes it a little bit easier [having] a nice lead. Everybody did their part."
Penn State took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when DeBernardis swatted a two-out single to center field, scoring junior Heath Johnson (Alamagordo, N.M.) from second for the early advantage.
McNeese State tied the score in the second behind Josh Cholley's RBI double down the third base line, plating Matt Fontenot to make it 1-1.
The Lions came right back with three in the bottom of the inning for a 4-1 advantage. Senior Louie Picconi (North Merrick. N.Y.) led off with a sharp single to right field and reached third on freshman Steve Snyder's (West Chester, Pa.) double. Picconi then scored on Deegan's infield single before Snyder crossed the plate on Steranka's RBI groundout. Heath then made it a three-run cushion with a line drive single to left, scoring Deegan.
Penn State got some breathing room in the fourth, plating three runs for a 7-1 advantage. It was Heath who came up big once again, crushing his fourth home run of the season, a three-run shot well over the wall in left to plate Johnson and Steranka.
The Cowboys got a run back in the fifth, but the Lions made it 8-2 after six full when Deegan hit an infield single, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Steranka single.
The Nittany Lions had five more hits in the seventh and scored three more times for an 11-2 lead. Junior DeBernardis, Snyder, Deegan, Johnson and junior Bobby Jacobs (West Chester, Pa.) all singled to spark the outburst.
McNeese State cut the lead to 11-5 with three in the top of the eighth off sophomores Mike Franklin (Harleysville, Pa.) and Drew Irsfeld (Eugene, Ore.), but freshman Luis Montesinos (Miami, Fla.) tacked on Penn State's 12th run with a sacrifice fly in his first collegiate plate appearance. The Cowboys added a run in the ninth, but Irsfeld got out of the jam with a 1-6-3 double play to send Penn State home winners.
Penn State continues the YMBL Cardinal Classic on Saturday against Dallas Baptist (12 p.m. ET) and Lamar (3:30 p.m. ET). The Lions then play Lamar for a second time on Sunday (2 p.m. ET) before moving onto College Station where they face Texas A&M on Tuesday and Wednesday.
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